Tao (タオ?) is life force energy that can be found in every living and non-living thing. It can be manifested and used to increase the beings various abilities, giving them powers similar to that of a gods.
Everything in the world possesses a unique form of Tao. Tao circulates throughout the body and is generated from the person's "tanden" (タンデン?), which is located below the navel. Manifestation of Tao is created when one's spirit is balanced, requiring the individual to accept not only their strengths but also their weaknesses from within their heart as a way for their spirit to not be too intense or tranquil. The concept of Yin-Yang is also viewed as being one of the key points to unlocking Tao. According to Mu Dan, the volume of one's Tao also depends on natural talent.
Training to master Tao requires five methods: Do'in, Taisoku, Shu'itsu, Shuten and Bochu Jutsu. While the four methods can be done alone to prepare the mind and body, the final method, Bochu Jutsu, requires a partner of the opposite sex to join both Yin-Yang energies together by performing sexual intercourse. It's said that once the practitioners Tao has been hone, they have the power to reshape the world. So far, Lord Tensen are the only known beings that possess this power.
Every person's Tao has an attribute to one of the Five Elements (五行 Gogyō?). The five elements follow a cycle of restoration and hindering effects with one another when making physical contact. A restoration between two elements will cause one person's Tao to be replenished, while a hindering will cause one person's Tao to be drained and weakened. The cycle is as follows:
- Wood (木 Ki?) restores Fire and hinders Earth.
- Fire (火 Hi?) restores Earth and hinders Metal.
- Earth (土 Tsuchi?) restores Metal and hinders Water.
- Metal (金 Kin?) restores Water and hinders Wood.
- Water (水 Mizu?) restores Wood and hinders Fire.
For a Tensen, when up against a Tao user with a hindering element, the Tensen's healing abilities will be halted for a short period of time and will ultimately die if their tanden is destroyed.
| Yamada Asaemon|
| Yamada Asaemon|
Mu Dan †
|Plant Dōshi *||Rokurōta †|| Yamada Asaemon|
Click here to see the legend of the symbols used
- †: the character is deceased.
- *: the character's status is unknown.
- ‡: the character is no longer part of this group.
From the moment they awaken their Tao, the user gains a sixth sense where they are granted the ability to sense the presence of other Tao around them. By sensing Tao, the user is able to capture every single detail of a person's characteristics such as their height, weight, gender and even hairstyle. Since Tao can be found in non-living things as well, the user can sense the Tao of the terrain around them to help guide their way through obstacles and give them a detailed layout of structures. Shion describes the sensation of Tao as sensing "waves" (波 Nami?) flowing through the contours of one's body which creates an aura of light silhouettes within a dark background. Tao that has been lost will show when the persons aura is not completely formed or is fading away.
In battle, by sensing how the Tao moves, the user is able to predict their opponents attacks before they are given a chance to make them, making it easy for them to avoid and counterattack. It has been proven by users (such as Shion and Mu Dan) that sensory of an opponents Tao to track their movements is far greater than if one were to use their eyes. As greatly demonstrated by the blind Shion who managed to cut every one of Mu Dan's fast oncoming Kishikai stingers perfectly timed and only receive minor scratches. Another example is when Mu Dan blinded himself to show Yuzuriha and Senta that he was able to easily evade their attacks even without the use of his eyes.
The user can also sense the weak points of a person's Tao and can even use weak strikes to deal damage at the weaken area.
Tao can be used to enhance the user's combat abilities. Attacks or weapons imbued with Tao are stronger than they would normally without. It has been noted by Sagiri and Shion that Tao attacks causes severe damage from within the targets body as if their soul was struck and can cause fatal damage even if they don't hit vital points. Also, by cloaking their body with Tao, the user is able to harden their body to shrug off any normal attacks made contact.
Tao can also be used to attack without coming into close-range of the users intended target. This technique was later revealed to be known as Distant Strike (遠当 Tōate?) by Mu Dan. By gathering Tao in their hand, the user launches it as a invisible projectile by delivering an open-handed strike. This form of fighting makes it ideal for attacking those who can not sense Tao since they are unable to dodge the oncoming projectiles. It has been noted by Mu Dan that while Hermits such as himself can use this technique, humans are incapable of using it. The reason behind this is unknown.
There are two methods of fighting using Tao:
- Senjutsu (仙術 Literally meaning: Sage Techniques?) is a range of techniques that involves the user taking control of the Tao around them. This style of fighting seems to only be exclusive to the Doshi and Lord Tensen.
- Hōjutsu (方術 Literally meaning: Direction Techniques?) is another skill of Tao. The purpose of this Tao skill has not been fully explained, however, from what has been shown, it allows the user to conceal their presence by suppressing their Tao, or create footholds out of the Tao in the air, giving them levitation.
The usage of Tao acts as a double-edge sword. Since Tao is basically the users life force, using too much of it can cause great strain to the users body and improper usage can potentially cause death. The signs show up as nosebleeds, heavy breathing, and exhaustion. Tao can also eat away at the users mind, leaving them with amnesia and can only be healed with a Tao restoration.
Though Tao grants the user the ability to predict attacks, the Tao user must have a steady concentration on what attacks they are trying to avoid. While Mu Dan was concentrating on avoiding Sagiri's attacks, he was unable to predict Yuzuriha and Senta's attacks on his legs due to only focusing his attention on one person. This was shown again when Mu Dan failed to notice Senta's attack from behind, as he was conflicted with fighting Yuzuriha, losing his concertation in the process.
When two Tao users are up against each other, the user with the stronger Tao can bypass the defense of the other Tao user. An example being Chōbē, whose Tao was rapidly growing, crushed a Doshi's hand when its entire body was cloaked in it.
- Shion theorized that warriors who went down in history were able to wield Tao whether they were aware of it or not.